A late-November fire on Summit Lane in Montecito prompted responding fire agencies to remind everyone to have working smoke detectors and keep the batteries fresh. The home involved had no smoke detectors to alert the residents to the fire, which was called in after neighbors smelled smoke. To make battery replacement in household smoke and carbon monoxide detectors more environmentally friendly, MarBorg and the County of Santa Barbara have begun a program to collect used batteries. Customers are asked to put batteries in a clear, sealed, plastic bag and place it on top of (not inside) their blue recycling bin on recycling pickup day. Rechargeable batteries must have their ends taped to avoid exposure of the battery poles. More information is at (805) 882-3602 or visit lessismore.org/batteries.
Unfortunately, the winter holidays are the season for inadvertent home fires. Area fire agencies advise placing space heaters with at least 36 inches of clearance to all sides, having heaters inspected and fireplaces and wood stoves cleaned before their first use, using hot water — not an open flame or torch — to thaw frozen pipes, and never leaving a fire unattended. Hot incandescent bulbs, broken bulbs, loose wiring on strings of lights, or overloaded sockets can be culprits in fire starts, as well as candles left to burn on their own or near flammables. Another fire starter can be a dry conifer. Keeping Christmas trees well-watered and away from heat sources can help keep the holidays from going up in flames.